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Kyle Busch sets Bristol qualifying record

Friday, Mar. 15, 2013

Busch broke a 10-year-old track qualifying record with an average lap speed at 129.535 mph to claim the top starting position in Sunday’s Food City 500.

Kyle Busch has had lots of success in the Sprint Cup Series at Bristol Motor Speedway but had never won a pole – until Friday.

Busch broke a 10-year-old track qualifying record with an average lap speed at 129.535 mph to claim the top starting position in Sunday’s Food City 500.

That’s certainly a benefit in the close confines of the .533-mile track where Busch has five series wins, the most recent coming in this race two years ago.

“It was a great job by all these guys. They worked hard and it all pays off like this,” said Busch, who earned his 11th career pole.

“Starting up front at Bristol can mean good things. We unloaded with a really fast race car. We were able to get it to where it was pretty quick in practice and thought we had a shot at the pole.”

The previous track qualifying record was set by Ryan Newman in 2003 with an average lap speed of 128.709 mph.

Kasey Kahne was second-fastest, Denny Hamlin was third, Brian Vickers fourth and Paul Menard fifth. Series points leader Jimmie Johnson will line up 13th.

Danica Patrick, who opened the season by winning the pole for the Daytona 500, will start 41st on Sunday – the third consecutive race she has started 37th or worse.

Clements hopes to salvage career

Jeremy Clements hopes his suspension from NASCAR for using a racial slur in an interview will not adversely affect his career, but he said it’s too soon to tell.

Clements, a regular in the Nationwide Series, returned to competition Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway. His suspension was lifted earlier this week after he successfully completed a class with Dr. Richard Lapchick, the founder and director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports.

“I made a remark that has no place in our society, kidding or not. I want to apologize to NASCAR, the reporter, my team, my family, my sponsors and of course all the fans out there,” Clements said.

“I didn’t mean to offend anybody at all. I’m sorry I let you all down. It doesn’t represent who I am or how I was raised.”

Clements said he paid the $2,500 for the class himself and had one sponsor pull out of his team after he was suspended.

“It’s been extremely difficult time. At first it really hit me hard. (NASCAR) called me and asked me if I did say that remark. I was honest with them and owned up for it which I think anybody should have done,” Clements said.

Annett will be evaluated Monday

Michael Annett, who suffered a cracked sternum in a wreck in the Feb. 23 Nationwide Series race at Daytona, will meet with his surgeon Monday at Carolinas Medical Center to check on his progress.

Reed Sorenson is currently filling in for Annett in Richard Petty Motorsports’ No. 43 Ford until Annett is cleared to return to driving. The initial assessment was he would miss six to eight weeks of action.

Annett said his team and NASCAR officials remain uncertain how he suffered the injury.

“It was just that everything came together the worst way possible – the speed, the impact, the angle of impact,” Annett said. “Twelve years ago I wouldn’t be able to be standing here talking to you guys if we didn’t have the safety devices we have now.

“The pain is gone pretty much right now, but sneezing and there are certain things I do where I get a little bit cocky and think I can do more than I can and tweak it a little bit, but, right now, it’s just about time and everything healing back.”

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